Oxford University’s Bodleian Libraries today announced that they had secured Planning Permission approval and Listed Building Consent from Oxford City Council for the £78 million restoration and renovation of the New Bodleian Library, to be reopened as the Weston Library in 2014/2015. The long-awaited project, designed by Wilkinson Eyre Architects (WEA), has three aims: to create high quality storage for the Libraries’ valuable special collections, which include the rare and unique manuscripts, books and maps that the Bodleian preserves for the international world of scholarship; to develop the Libraries’ space for the support of advanced research; and to expand public access to its great treasures through new exhibition galleries and other facilities.
The New Bodleian was designed by Giles Gilbert Scott in the 1930s. It was built, essentially, as a huge ‘book fortress’. Wilkinson Eyre Architects has reinterpreted the building to respect its heritage while at the same time modernising the infrastructure; providing better facilities for students and researchers, as well as greater opportunities for collaboration with and outreach to the wider community.
This is a major project for a working academic library. The renovation will commence in 2011 following the removal of over 3.5 million books and the Weston Library will reopen in 2015. As a working research library, the Bodleian is endeavouring, despite a number of complex initiatives underway, including the construction of a high-density book storage facility and the relocation of over 6.5 million volumes, to provided uninterrupted service for its readers during the redevelopment. The scale of planned improvements is unparalleled among research libraries.